Chilean Health Minister Enrique Paris has made a pessimistic note at his recent daily Covid press conference.
The daily number of cases reached a record high on April 9, surpassing 9,000 for the first time since the pandemic began, well above the previous peak, just below 7,000 in mid-June.
“I’m worried,” he said last Friday. “We are experiencing a critical moment in a pandemic … I encourage you to take care of yourself, your loved ones, and your family.”
The intensive care unit was once again overwhelmed, the country closed the border again for all non-residents, and most of the 18 million inhabitants were blocked.
“We feel like we’re retreating,” says Sophia Pinto, who lives in Santiago. “For important things such as grocery shopping and seeing a doctor, you need to download a special permit online so that you are only allowed twice a week.”
The frustration and turmoil many Chileans feel about the new blockade was just two months ago when President Sebastian Pinella boasted that Chile had one of the fastest vaccination deployments in the world. Partly due to the fact that it was.
What was wrong?
Critics have accused the Pinella government of being involved in a victory over the deployment of the vaccine and loosening restrictions on the coronavirus too quickly.
Like governments around the world, ministers here faced difficult choices.
The Chilean border was closed from March to November 2020, with a few exceptions, after a strict blockade reduced the average for the seven days of November to 1,300, and then foreign tourists. It was decided to reopen the border, including customers. ..
After some experts argued that it was important for people’s mental health, Chileans were also given special vacation permits to travel more freely throughout the country during the Southern Hemisphere summer vacation.
Restaurants, shops and holiday resorts were opened to kickstart the sluggish economy.
Fast, but not in time for the holidays
Immunization deployment is certainly fast, but it only started in late December, with front-line healthcare professionals, healthcare professionals over the age of 90, and teachers lined up first.
Therefore, the majority of Chileans would not have been vaccinated by the time they met their relatives and friends during the summer vacations of January and February.
In addition, the epidemic of new, more susceptible variants of the virus, such as the P.1 variant, which is believed to have emerged in the state of Amazonas, Brazil, in November.
Dr. Susan Bueno, a professor of immunology at the Catholic University of the Holy See, states that the recent surge is a “multi-factor problem,” but she believes the new variant is having a “major impact.” I will.
She also says that messages about how to prevent transmission, such as wearing masks and washing hands, were somewhat ignored during the Chilean summer. “Probably one of the causes of the outbreak we are seeing now,” she explains.
Professor Bueno is also confused about how the vaccines received by the majority of the country work. To date, more than 93% of the doses administered in Chile have been CoronaVac manufactured by Beijing-based biopharmacy company Sinovac.
Data on the efficacy of the CoronaVac vaccine vary. A Brazilian study suggested an efficacy rate of about 50.4% However, the results of late-stage trials in Indonesia and Turkey suggested a much higher rate between 65% and 83%.
A study published last week by the University of Chile We examined the level of protection the vaccine provides after the first and second doses (in Spanish).
CoronaVac has been suggested to be 56.5% effective in protecting people from infection two weeks after receiving the second dose, but this figure in the period between the first and second doses. Was only 3%.
This may provide important clues as to why more than 7.4 million people received the first jab in Chile, where cases are still increasing, but those who received both the first and second doses. The number of is much smaller. 4.3 million.
At a press conference announcing the findings, Ennio Vivaldi, president of the University of Chile, even said that the first dose of CoronaVac alone had no “related effects.”
Second dose is important
Therefore, Professor Bueno, director of science for clinical trials of the CoronaVac vaccine in Chile, states that adherence to a complete vaccination schedule is paramount. “A single dose does not give a complete protective response,” she explains.
Maria Gonzalez is the message that she believes the government is not making enough efforts. Residents of Santiago have just received their first jab at the vaccination center.
“Two jabs are needed for the vaccine to work properly,” she says, waiting outside the clinic to make sure there are no allergic reactions. “Still, we need to be careful and follow social distances and other security measures.”
Some Chileans are worried about the effectiveness of CoronaVac.
Sir Gonzalo is one of them. He has come to one of the few vaccination centers in the capital that offers Pfizer vaccines.
“I want that [the Pfizer vaccine] It’s more effective, traveling for work, and hearing that Pfizer is needed for more widespread recognition, “he says.
However, Professor Bueno, who analyzes scientific data from trials using CoronaVac, asserts that the data show that it works.
She states that many infected people had very mild or asymptomatic symptoms in a study that showed an efficacy rate of about 50%. She emphasizes that what is important is that no one in the trial had to go into intensive care.
She claims that CoronaVac has proven to prevent death and serious illness and is also effective against Brazilian variants.
Not only did the government order a strict blockade in response to the surge in incidents, The latest information on vaccination campaigns on the website Inspired by the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.
And as more and more Chileans get vaccinated, the website counters are pointing up, so messages about the importance of getting vaccinated also seem to be filtered.
“Getting the vaccine is very important and it doesn’t matter which one you get,” says Verónica Perez, who recently got CoronaVac. “They all help save lives.”